I Woke Up Dead at the Mall
By Judy Sheehan
Published March 22, 2016 by Delacorte Press
Reviewed from e-ARC
To add insult to injury, not only has Sarah woken up dead at the Mall of America, but she's still wearing the horrible mango chiffon bridesmaid dress she died in. It only gets worse from there as she realizes that she was murdered, her killer is still out there, and her father may be in danger. Even though it's totally against the rules, can Sarah figure out a way to get justice and protect her dad?
Quite often, I choose books by their titles. Having been an avid library user for most of my life, the books I browsed tended to be spine out, making their titles the first impression I got of them. Any title that sounded interesting, I'd pull of the shelf and read the synopsis before making a final decision. The practice of choosing books by titles has stayed with me, so, when I needed something to read before heading off on my vacation, the quirkiness of this title struck me. As a bonus, it was a comparatively short read to the other ARCs I had downloaded, so it was the winner.
For a book narrated by a murdered teen, this is an extremely lighthearted read. Nothing ever really felt too perilous and I never doubted that things would work out for all the characters. There are some funny bits and the friendships that develop between Sarah and the teens she meets at the mall are quite charming (if a bit unbelievable). The romance is sweet enough and definitely fits with the overall feel of the book. The mystery is solved in an interesting way and what Sarah is able to do to help people back on Earth is unique, giving the story something a bit different from a typical teenage ghost story.
If you take the book at face value, then I think it's a perfectly fine read that many readers will enjoy. The problems come when you think a bit more carefully about it - the romance feels unrealistic, the picture of the afterlife painted is a mishmash of many things (but carefully avoiding any religion by name), and the fact that these kids were all murdered is a little too glossed over. The book is mostly pretty chaste, though there is one scene of intimacy that might push this out of the younger YA range.
Overall, this is a fun, if forgettable, read for teens looking for a lighthearted supernatural romance. Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.